Welcome to NK’s Album Flashbacks, where the Negative Kitty shares her thoughts on not-so-recent albums. Today’s album review Mastodon – Crack The Skye!
What Sound Does a Mastodon Make?
It’s time to pounce into the dense forest of metal with Meowstodon. Bursting onto the scene in 1999 from Atlanta, Georgia, Mastodon ain’t no one-trick pony… or should I say, one-meow kitty? They’ve purr-owled through genres like Progressive Metal, Djent, Alt Metal, and even some sticky Sludge. I’m telling ya, this kitty crew’s got claws!
If there’s one thing I love more than a fresh can of tuna, it’s Mastodon’s ability to craft intricate storylines in their concept albums. And oh boy, Crack The Skye is one story-packed ball of yarn that I just wanna play with for hours. They’ve whipped up a majestic tapestry, drawing inspiration from legends like Neurosis, Sabbath, and even a tad of Metallica. Now, stir in some Iron Maiden, sprinkle a little Tool, and you have a concoction that’s so unique, it’s got its own meow.
This album leans heavily into their progressive tendencies, with guitarist Brent Hinds listening to In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson every day during recording. It’s a great album so I can’t imagine that was too hard, and you can feel those classic prog influences throughout this album. And speaking of ins-purr-ations, Dailor and Sanders of the band took Animals by Pink Floyd as their own musical muse.
Just when you thought this album couldn’t get any more cryptic, Dailor revealed in various interviews with a little wink and paw that some of the aspects woven into the story of the album include the aesthetics of Tsarist Russia, cosmic catnaps where we float around the astral plane, and even Stephen Hawking’s mind-bending theories about wormholes. Would you guys still love me if I was a wormhole >__<
The lead single off the album, “Divinations,” almost catches you off guard with a “blink and you’ll miss it” banjo solo that clears the path for giant, satisfying choruses and gurgly, almost Ozzy-like vocals. The vocals are increasingly clean-sung on this album, managing the Mastodon feel without the vein-bursting screams and grunts of previous albums.
My favorite song on the album is “Quintessence,” which has such a dope and noodley lead riff. The whole track has an airy, ethereal vibe, and that heavy crushing part toward the end where they bring back the main riff, but crunchified, gets my kitty blood all hot and bubbly.
In Prog fashion there are a few songs of seriously EPIC proportions, the first being “The Czar” at nearly 11 minutes. Now I’m a fan of a good loooooong song, and Mastodon crafts lengthy tracks which never feel pretentious or long just for the sake of being long. “The Czar” is a slow burning track that features intricate riffs that build up to sludgy breakdowns and alternative metal vocals and exchanges. Catchy lyrics chronicle the story of Rasputin’s failed attempt to usurp Tsar Nicolas II, only to be assassinated later. Which is a whole other story. If u know u know.
Now we all know by now that Mastodon are master-dons of storytelling. I mean guys, literally most of their albums are concepts albums, whether it’s the five elements, or the story of Moby Dick. But beneath the kooky kitty cosmic imagery, lives a deeper and more heartbreaking context to key elements of this album — I don’t wanna get into it here, but look it up if you want to crey :'(
“Crack the Skye” is a bittersweet meld of classic, progressive, and stoner rock coming together for a paw-tapping symphony. Mastodon sets themselves apart with their earnest integrity and preservation of their sound throughout their musical journey.
The final track on this album, “The Last Baron” is a 13 minutes cryptic epic detailing the journey of a weary soul across the astral plane. The true conclusion of this album’s tale is hard to understand, leaving me cat-scratching my head. One of Mastodon’s strongest songs, prog metal cascades clash with sludgy riffs and stoner metal vocals. This is an intense track leaving this kitty breathless!
This album feels huge, forcing you to wrangle with the impressive and the boundless. It’s almost as if Mastodon is whiskering us away on a musical journey through the very kitty fur fabric of space and time, one riff at a time, making me wanna Crack through The Skye! Go ahead and peep it today, because I give the album a rating of EPIC NUGGETS.
Ta-ta for now, my darlings!